The Long Beach City Council is going to get an earful at its meeting tonight, courtesy of angry medical marijuana activists who are still angry at the city's December 2009 raid on dispensaries there. Among the speakers will be attorney Matthew Pappas, who will discuss a recent raid on a client of his that was allegedly conducted without a search warrant. Also to appear will be Charles Monson, a medical marijuana activist and quadriplegic who is demanding Long Beach come clean about how much money the city is wasting on its schizophrenic war on weed, one in which some collectives are raided and their operators jailed while others, who are doing the exact same thing, are receiving city permits and being left unmolested by officials.
Pappas is expected to detail a May 10 raid against the 562 Collective, operated by Katherine Aldridge, who told the Weekly that officers forced their way into the club without a search warrant. Aldridge was not present when the raid occurred, but arrived shortly thereafter. Officers did not arrest Aldridge but did arrest security guard and her cousin who were both working at the club, and charged both men with operating a marijuana collective without a permit.
Aldridge claims that despite having no warrant, police tried to intimidate her into opening her safe so they could examine her records and/or seize cash from the club. "They were trying to railroad me into opening my safe and I said if you don't have a warrant, I'm not doing it," Aldridge said. "Give me a search warrant and I'll open it; if you don't get one, go get a blowtorch and do your thing." Apparently the officers left without opening her safe.
Monson, who was the focus of this 2007 Weekly cover story, is going to demand paperwork from the city to demonstrate how much money and resources was wasted when 120 officers were dispatched to take down dispensaries operated by Joe Byron and Joe Grumbine, who unlike everyone else arrested in the raid, were charged a year later with selling marijuana, even though the "sales" in question involved providing cannabis to undercover officers who presented valid doctor's recommendations allowing them to smoke marijuana.
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Both Byron and Grumbine face a trial scheduled to begin this month and could spend seven years behind bars if convicted.